Josh McGeown

Josh McGeown

Doctor of Philosophy candidate

Mild traumatic brain injury or concussion is the most common type of traumatic brain injury, says PhD student Josh McGeown who is researching how to rehabilitate athletes following a concussion.

“With the growing concern of mild traumatic brain injury in contact sports like rugby union it’s essential to identify objective methods to assist in clinical assessment, diagnosis and management of sports-related mild traumatic brain injury to ensure athletes don’t return to play until they’re fully recovered.

“Early return to play, before full recovery, can result in an increased risk for subsequent mild traumatic brain injury, with worse symptomology and longer recovery timelines. There’s also a clinical need to improve understanding of how to most effectively prescribe exercise and nutrition strategies to reduce the symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury.”

It’s a research topic close to his own heart for Josh who has always played sports and has had a number of concussions himself.

Josh’s PhD research is supervised by AUT’s Professor Patria Hume and Associate Professor Alice Theadom, as well as NZ Rugby scientist Ken Quarrie. His work has already been featured in Sports Medicine – Open.

Lighting the fire
His journey to AUT actually started in Japan, says Josh who came to AUT as an international student from Canada and was awarded a Vice-Chancellor’s Doctoral Scholarship to support his studies.

“In 2016, I presented some of my research at the 34th International Society of  Biomechanics in Sport Conference in Tsukuba, Japan. AUT’s Professor Patria Hume was the keynote speaker at the conference.

“We were in a room with hundreds of people but I felt she was only talking to me, so I approached her afterwards. A 10-minute chat soon turned into a two-hour meeting, and two years after that I was on a plane and heading to New Zealand.”

Outstanding facilities and support
He loves being based at AUT Millennium for his studies, says Josh who expects to finish his PhD in 2021.

“When I came here on one of my first days at AUT and saw the facilities at AUT Millennium I was extremely impressed.

“AUT Millennium is very friendly and supportive, especially at SPRINZ. The majority of the students here are international, and we all help each other out, and give each other advice on where to live and things to avoid. You know you can always talk to someone at SPRINZ if you need help.”